Cloud services have gained a foothold in the enterprise mainly by virtue of their low cost and virtually unlimited scalability to meet ever-increasing data requirements.
To date, most cloud deployments have been experimental. This is perfectly natural for a new technology, as enterprises are loathe to commit serious resources to, or place significant responsibilities on, an architecture that has yet to be proven in real-world situations.
But now that more organizations are gaining experience on the cloud, the industry seems poised to take the next step -- integrating cloud services with legacy enterprise infrastructure. After all, few organizations will simply junk systems and technology that they've spent millions to acquire just to port everything over to someone else's data center. It's a topic IT Business Edge's Loraine Lawson is thinking about as well.
That kind of integration is easier said than done, however. To date, only a handful of small vendors have taken a stab at smoothing the rough spots when it comes to sharing data and applications across on-premises and cloud architectures.
One of them is a company called Cast Iron Systems, which this week is to unveil the OmniConnect system that acts as a data bridge between internal systems and public and private clouds. The company says it has a unique approach that provides for cloud-based, as opposed to local, management and integration processes. They say this allows for greater insight into enterprise-wide data structures and helps to break the vendor lock-in that arises when service providers seek to integrate user applications in their platforms.
Another company pushing heavily toward cloud integration is Informatica, It has released a cloud services portfolio that includes a heavy dose of data synchronization and data replication, which enables both a multi-step integration process between internal and external resources, and that archives data across service provider applications and internal databases.
Meanwhile, data-management firm Iron Mountain has taken steps to expand its stable of services across multiple environments through the acquisition of archive specialist Mimosa Systems. The company's NearPoint platform provides tools like ediscovery, compliance supervision and recovery, which bolsters Iron Mountain's drive to provide a full-service management suite capable of reaching systems both inside and outside the firewall.
And a startup called CloudSwitch is beta testing a system that essentially turns cloud resources into extensions of external infrastructure, providing for temporary expansion of resources that appear to users as simply another tier of the existing architecture. No word yet on when an actual product will make its appearance, although the company has begun increasing its public profile of late.
Data integration across internal and cloud platforms is crucial if the technology is to live up to its promise as a global resource pool capable of extreme scalability and long-distance load-balancing prowess. Demand for the cloud is certainly on the upswing, but could easily be derailed if it turns out that it can't function with legacy infrastructure without putting data through a lot of complicated processes.
Innovation is certainly prevalent on the cloud, but it will come to nothing if it is not matched with some old-fashioned practical functionality.